Brenner Talks About Her Ordeal
Reprinted from the Ithaca Journal Tuesday, November 1, 1988.
Brenner Credits Wight with saving her life Gettysburg, Fa. (AP)- lthacan
Claudia Brenner, the victim of a May ambush in western Adams County, credits her slain companion, Rebecca Wight, with saving her life.
Brenner, who had to walk four miles through rugged mountain terrain after being shot four times by Stephen Roy Carr, 29, described the circumstances surrounding the incident to the Gettysburg Times.
Carr was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in Adams County for the death of Wight, 29, of Blacksburg, Va., who had been hiking and camping with Brenner. Sentencing for Carr has been deferred.
Brenner, who did not testify in court, said the two women went to Michaux State Forest on May 12 for a camping weekend.
On the morning of May 13, the women briefly encountered Carr twice. In the afternoon, the couple set up camp near a stream. They were lying on a tentfly when the shooting started.
The fIrst shot hit Brenner in the arm. "My arm exploded and I didn' t understand what had happened," she said.
Slugs from Carr's .22-caliber rifle then struck her in the face, head and neck. Wight told her to get down, she said, then told her to hide behind a nearby tree.
"I was completely disoriented, stunned and shocked," Brenner said. But Wight asked her where she was shot "and that put me back in the present."
At that point, Wight was shot in the back and the head. Even after being shot, "she had the presence of mind to tell me to stop the bleeding," Brenner said.
The women could not see who was firing at them through the tangle of mountain laurel and underbrush. Police would later say that Carr fired his rifle from 82 feet away. After waiting for their attacker to leave, Brenner said she began to prepare to go for help.
"I was saying, 'Oh my God, Oh my God, what are we going to do? How are we going to get out of here?" she said.
Brenner said she could not carry her mortally wounded friend.
"I didn't know she was fatally wounded," she said. "I tried everything I could think of to have the two of us leave together, including picking her up a bunch of times and she kept collapsing.
I kept trying whatever resuscitation techniques I could think of, not knowing exactly what her injuries were...At some point, it just became horribly clear that she could not stand up and the only chance was to go for help myself."
Brenner said she made Wight as comfortable as possible before leaving. She took a map and a flashlight. As she walked through almost four miles of heavy underbrush and rugged mountain terrain, the thought that her friend needed help kept her going, she said.
"I think the motivation of believing if I only got help for her she might live...propelled me just as much as realizing I needed help for my own injuries. I really feel... that Rebecca saved my life before she died," Brenner said.
Along the way, she said, she worried about being found by the gunman.
"I was terrified," she said. "But I felt I had no choice but to go and take my chances, not knowing if he was waiting somewhere."
Brenner was picked up by two young men driving on the Shippensburg Road. She told them how to find her friend, but by the time searchers reached Wight, she had died.
Brenner praised state police who interviewed her for information about the attack. She has recuperated from her wounds, she said, but she is still shaken by the experience.
"I felt like a widow of 32 years old," she said. "That grieving process and the pain isn't over and probably will be with me the rest of my life. That and the experience of having someone trying to murder me intentionally may never go away."